Working Paper | HBS Working Paper Series | 2013

Are Patents Creative or Destructive?

by Tom Nicholas


Current debate over patent aggregation has led to renewed interest in the long standing question concerning whether patents are a creative or a destructive influence on the process of technological development. In this paper I examine the basic patent tradeoff between incentives and monopoly distortions in light of recent contributions to the literature. I outline where patents can function effectively, where they can be damaging and where additional complementary mechanisms to spur innovation may be appropriate.

Keywords: patents; innovation; incentives; Motivation and Incentives; Patents; Innovation and Invention;


Nicholas, Tom. "Are Patents Creative or Destructive?" Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 14-036, November 2013.